by Lang Reid
Korea The Impossible Country
seem to have a fascination for Korea and all things Korean, and I thought
this week’s review book from Tuttle Publishing might explain this.
Written by Daniel Tudor, a western journalist with extensive knowledge of
Korea and its history, “Korea The Impossible Country” (ISBN
978-0-8048-4252-5, Tuttle Publishing, 2012) is a hard-back with many color
The first section of the book deals with the history of the peninsula, and
how national religious concepts have formed many of the development stages.
The history of Korea dates back hundreds of years BCE and I found this very
interesting, especially when compared to Thailand, a veritable newcomer in
the historical stakes, and even for many western counties as well.
The early years were punctuated by bloody wars, with four main protagonist
groups superior. This is the reason that surnames Kim, Lee, Park and Choi
make up half the population today!
Very similar to Thailand, corruption in the upper echelon made many rich,
and spawned many rebellions, but eventually Korea managed to form a workable
The current economic miracle, author Tudor ascribes to “the ability to
perfect the products of others, stems from a laser-like focus on continuous
improvement, which owes as much to Buddhist thinking here (in Korea) as it
does in Japan.” In fact, it would seem that most of Korea’s development has
been greatly influenced by the religions of the day, be that Buddhist,
Confucian or even Christian.
Tudor has even researched the Korean music scene and how it was affected by
dictatorship, and government censorship. This is a very complete book.
The RRP is B. 710 for a hardback, and it is more than worth it. Read and
Korea will be opened up for you, and one can only hope that Thailand will
catch up soon.
With the publishers making it possible for an e-interview I asked the
following questions but his answers were much longer and I had to use the
Q: With your British background, just what was it that attracted you
A: Korea is a very dynamic society, where things change in the blink
of an eye. There’s always something new going on in Korea - a social trend,
a political scandal, a fad, etc; so life is never boring there.
Q: There is no bibliography to divulge the sources of information.
From where did you get the research data?
A: My main sources of information were interviews - often with people
directly involved in the events I’m describing; for instance, I interviewed
Park Won - soon - he was sent to jail in the 70s for protesting against the
government; he was a social campaigner for years; and now, he’s the mayor of
Q: With the rapid economic miracle, would you say that the Korean
society is now stable?
A: I don’t think Korean society is that stable yet. The rapid growth
era is definitely over, but plenty of people still have that developmental
philosophy, which I believe is now somewhat detrimental to the South Korea
This book will give you a better understanding of Korea.
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